Moving an older adult out of his or her home can be one of the most challenging decisions a family faces. We all want our family members to maintain their independence for as long as possible, but we also need to ensure that they get the best available care.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines Aging in Place (AiP) as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”1 With ten thousand baby boomers becoming seniors every day,2 our existing elderly care infrastructure is poorly equipped to provide adequate care in the coming years. Thanks to the convergence of new technologies, the Aging in Place (AiP) market will expand rapidly into a $30+ billion market by next year,3 allowing aging individuals to remain at home longer than ever. This transition will rely upon practical and elegant sensor-based solutions for this rapidly changing industry.
If you take a look at existing spatial intelligence technology, you’ll typically find dated and unsightly passive infrared sensors. These sensors were not designed with our aging family members in mind: they are complicated to install, require battery replacements or wired installations, give basic binary information, and feel invasive. It’s not uncommon for someone to cover these sensors with a jacket because they feel like they’re being watched.
At Stack, we approach sensors differently. We embed next-generation radar-based RF sensor technology into the most common and ubiquitous household appliance: the light bulb. Anyone can screw one in - there’s no expensive installation, wires, or replacement batteries. On top of providing great lighting, our bulbs can detect activity through most materials like a lamp shade thanks to our sophisticated signal processing and machine learning algorithms. Stack lights turn on and off automatically based upon a room’s occupancy and can be controlled easily via wireless switches or the Stack Lighting smartphone app.
We leverage this RF sensor technology to create powerful data engines that track important metrics like activity levels, whether someone might not have gotten out of bed in the morning, changes in sleep patterns, and if caregivers are coming and going. With Stack’s API and SDKs, existing care systems can easily integrate these data engines to drive comprehensive solutions. This gives caregivers and family members powerful insights into the lives of loved ones to enable appropriate levels of care.
Stack lights offer a direct benefit to the well-being of older adults through automated circadian lighting. Research shows that lighting can have a significant impact on our circadian rhythm, the biological processes influenced by the 24 hour earth cycle, which can affect alertness during the day and sleep in the evenings.4 Due to the thickening of the eye’s lens with age, the amount of light that passes through to the retina shrinks as we get older. This can lead to muted signals to our bodies.
Stack lights automatically mimic the sun throughout the day to benefit our circadian rhythms, which can help us stay active during the day and sleep soundly at night. This is even more important to those of us who are aging, as more than half of individuals 65 and older suffer from chronic sleep disturbances5 and Alzheimer’s patients often suffer from wake-sleep cycle disruptions.6
Stack lights also allow older adults to more easily find their way around in the evening without having to flip a switch. One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year,7 and falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal hospital admissions among older adults.8
Often times falls occur during late night visits to the bathroom. We’re working with our Stack Enabled partners to create a range of lighting formats that will help guide customers safely to the bathroom and back to bed in the evening, without blinding them or disrupting their sleep patterns with bright light.
With a next-generation, non-invasive sensor network, we look forward to helping older adults retain their dignity and independence while empowering family and caregivers to track important metrics to optimize their care. The Stack Care platform is currently available to select partners and will launch in early 2017. For more information, please visit stacklighting.com/care or contact [email protected]